Milos Greece was a perfect spot for snorkeling — it has crystal blue waters, amazing landscapes, and accessible caves. We took an afternoon cruise to the best spots.
As we sailed, we saw amazing port villages and pumice walled cliffs with ocean caves.
Snorkelers dove off the boat from about 15 feet up — you could never do that in America! Why not – I happily joined the few that dared.
We approached the infamous Sarakiniko Beach — a local hangout with stellar pumice beaches and cliffs that people dive from. Our boat sailed right along the beach and we later visited the beach from the land.
After leaving the beach, we stopped in at Plaka to view the sunset.
What a place!
We made a quick stop in Crete to see Knossos, a bronze age archaeological site that is referred to as “Europe’s oldest city”. Knossos was built and inhabited by Greek royalty from 2700 to 1100 BC. Marked by huge palaces and complex architecture, the ruins of this site are awe inspiring.
Amazingly, they had running water, flushing toilets and elaborate architectural designs — all over 4,000 years ago! They painted frescoes on the walls eliciting hints as to how life was at the time.
There were also a lot of pottery found in this ancient city — notice the detail.
During the 16th century, Venetians took advantage of swift sea breezes by erecting windmills to crush grain (like wheat) in Mykonos and other Cycladic islands. As grain production became less profitable in the 20th century, most windmills were removed. Only a few survived and are used a museums. They also make a great backdrop to the sea.
We booked a small group tour of Mykonos – our guide moved there 50 years ago from Canada. He visited the island, fell in love with it and has never left. He spent the day showing us his favorite spots. We started at the lighthouse — the gateway to Mykonos.
The views from the lighthouse are inspiring.
We then went to one of the many beaches Mykonos offers. We learned that Mykonos has more beaches than any other of the Cycladic islands.
He then gave us a tour through the town, pointing out areas of interest, bars, restaurants, and gave us insight into daily life. He weaved in stories of houses he lived in, neighbors he had, and his favorite bakeries (best chocolate / peanut butter balls I’ve ever tasted), check out the bakery:
Mykonos has so much eye candy, it was hard to fully capture the beauty. Here are some of my favorite pictures — I just love the colors.
If you visit Greece, be sure to spend a few days in Santorini. Perched upon imposing cliffs, you have the option of riding a donkey or taking a cable car ride to the vista.
Like all Cycladic Islands of Greece, it’s a sea of white and blue homes, businesses and churches. Over 100 years ago, building codes were made to enforce this color scheme and that decision has paid dividends.
The white and blue matches their flag and represents the blue and whitecaps of the ocean.
When visiting, we highly recommend a private tour. We booked ours using Viator, it was supposed to be a 6 hour tour of the island but as we noticed with all our time in Greece and Turkey — tour guides are warm and want you to have the best experience possible. That usually means that they add a couple of hours to your tour (at no additional cost) to ensure you see everything!
Starting our tour in Oia – we were surrounded by whitewash buildings with blue tops.
There are lots of small boutique shops and a cool little bookstore called Atlantis Books. You walk down a set of steps and land in a funky 2-room bookstore — it’s a must see!
Our tour guide (Nicholas) told us he lives in a Cave Home (I guess you can call him a Cave Man). Yep – the home was built in the side of a hill and this is not an uncommon thing for the area.
Being underground, it does not require heating or A/C — it stays naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The monthly rent for a 2 bedroom cave home that is beach front? $500 per month! He stopped by and showed us his home:
Black and Red Beaches
Being from the Gulf of Mexico, we are used to white sandy beaches. Santorini’s beaches are either black or red and favor pebbles over sugar-like sand. This would take a bit of getting used to, but the locals say they prefer it over sandy beaches.
Driving around the island, you see lots of shrubs with vines. Wait — these are grapevines!
Since Santorini has a very dry climate with very little rain, they teach grapevines to grow in a circular fashion that makes a basket that traps moisture. The island is full of these vines with a bustling wine scene. We visited several wineries while there (Artemis Karamolegos, Avantis Wines, and Santos).
One of the smaller wineries is called Faros Market. They have a donkey named Marco Polo that you can feed before starting your wine tasting!
Our guide Nicholas took us to a special spot to end the day — sunset from a church that requires a 10 minute hike down a hillside.
Just before dusk, the donkeys make their way up to the top of the mountain to close out a busy day of transporting tourist from the bottom of the mountain.
Then night falls and Santorini comes alive. It’s so easy to enjoy the view!